Chocolate Pillow | Complaint handling – making offers
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Complaint handling – making offers

12 Apr Complaint handling – making offers

Hello again all!

It has been a busy few weeks for me recently, so the entries for the blog have been a bit delayed… Saying that, it has actually been possible for me to write them, I have just been a bit lazy! The busy thing is just an excuse and I intend on sticking to it!

Last time I talked about complaints and my own experience at the hands of a large organisation. What I want to talk about this week is actually making offers to people as a result of a complaint, and dealing with compensating people.

Last week, I attended a sort of open day for an internal programme for managers (did not get selected to be on the course… Hurumph!) and as one of the ‘tasks’ we had to review and resolve a complaint from a guest who was looking at booking an event worth quite a lot of money. Basically the story was that they stayed overnight, had issues checking in, then we’re misinformed over dinner and got given the wrong drinks which were rectified but they were charged for e wrong drinks as well as the right ones. The shower in the room did not work and they had problems with no one showing up to give them a show round of the venue for their booking.

I cannot portray how shocked I was when a room full of people stated that the ‘correct’ thing to do is to refund the entire stay for them…… The next few seconds is a blur, but it resulted with me being at a flip chart deconstructing the complaint and going through the correct way to deal with it. (I used to be a corporate trainer so any opportunity to brandish a whiteboard pen near a flip chart or whiteboard is never a good thing as I will stand teaching for hours!)

Now to give you a brief idea of what I was doing, I this model:

1- figure out the core issues of the complaint and note them as bullet points. Ignore the fluffy stuff that surrounds every complaint (it sounds harsher than it actually is) such as how the guest had an experience like this in another hotel and that hotel did nothing about it etc…
2- from this list of issues look at what you can and cannot control. For example, you cannot control their sat nav not being able to find your hotel, but you can control whether your staff can provide directions to the hotel when someone calls up.
3- compensate or make offers based on those things you can control
4- use the items you cannot control as a method of giving exceptional ‘service recovery’ by providing a solution to those as well.

Okay, so in the example given we can control the broken shower, misinformation over dinner, failure to find the booking, someone not arriving to show them the venue and the issues over the wrong and double charged drinks. My complaint solution was the following:

1- get the shower fixed or offer use of an alternative room. To go the extra mile, also offer a late checkout free of charge to allow them time to freshen up.
2- do the show round of the venue when it is convenient with the guest (in the scenario the guest was on their way to breakfast)
3- pass details of the complaint on to the appropriate department managers to discuss with their teams
4- credit the incorrectly charged drinks off their bill

Okay, so looking at the resolutions, do you think they are compatible with the actual complaints we have? The miscommunication and issues with the booking and also with dinner and drinks can be responded to be the appropriate departmental manager, and apologies given with reassurances the matter will be addressed by the person dealing with the complaint. The issue with the shower is actually easy to resolve, either fix the show or get another room for the guests to use! The issue is they cannot have a shower, your resolution is to give them somewhere to shower! The only credit given is the drinks, as this is an additional extra that has been charged incorrectly, and can be proven to have been charged incorrectly!

So what about going the extra mile? Well that is easy also. Firstly ensure the details go to each department manager and then they should follow up with the guest to advise what actions have been taken as a result of their complaint, for example training or introduction of new procedures. Secondly, ensure that (in this case) sales were aware of the complaint so that when they complete a follow up call about the event, they can again reiterate apologies etc for the issues that occurred. Thirdly (it was not mentioned above, but the guest stated they had a really bad journey due to traffic delays), find out their next destination, and check on a route planner to see any traffic issues for the journey; print this off for the guest so that they can be prepared for their journey.

As an additional offer, due to the booking, it was suggested to offer the guest a free bedroom for the night of their event. This not only acts as an offer to the guest but also incentivises them to come back for the event so they get the freebie.

Now some of you may think that this did not go far enough and some may think it went too far. In my opinion this would be just about right. I will leave with my final point about compensation and offers to guests (another extract from my book):

A free drink at the bar will not fix the broken television, nor will it make the shower any hotter. A free nights stay will not stop the noise from the room next door and a free dinner will not make the air conditioning work. When resolving complaints, do not just throw free things at guests as this will not actually get the issue sorted out – most people just want the problem fixed. Fix the problem and you will have a happy customer, give away free stuff and never resolve the problem will just lead to bad business!

Until next week chaps! Tally Ho! Oh, but finally, congratulates to all the guys and girls that made it on to the programme (you know who you are), and just to rub it in… Go green team (and if memory serves me correctly we thrashed every other team by, ooohhhh, around 120 points?) – remember to reach for those stars (it makes no sense unless you were there, let’s just say there was a karaoke task, there were seven of us, and s club had seven members… We even did the routine and everything!)

Tatty bye!


Matt Shiells-Jones

Husband, Author, Hotel Manager and ambitious 'old cat lady'

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